Co-ops: Building Inclusive Communities
|Co-operative Women’s Guilds|
|Women were conspicuously absent in leadership roles and even membership in early co-operatives. The co-operative women’s guilds changed all that. Established in the 1940s and modeled on organizations active in the UK since the 1880s, Canadian guilds encouraged women to take more active roles in the movement and provided a forum for addressing social issues such as women’s rights and improvements in the quality of consumer goods.* The guilds were heavily involved in co-operative education, taking a leading role in delivering programs that educated women about co-operative values and principles and facilitated the development of skills for leadership roles in their co-operatives and their communities. The local guilds also organized activities that provided venues for youth involvement, introducing them to co-operative values at an early age and often laying the foundation for a lifetime of loyalty and leadership within the co-operative movement.
*Ian MacPherson, A Century of Co-operation